A roadshow is being launched to help the industry tackle what is being described as “the biggest change to affect estate agents in the history of data protection regulation.”
GDPR - General Data Protection Regulation - is being implemented on May 25 next year but the scale of preparation required is immense, and it is thought that 90 per cent of businesses have still to plan or implement a GDPR-compliant strategy.
Automated software company BriefYourMarket says the new regulation will change the way that agents communicate with their customers and store, process, and collect data. So it is essential that every business that wants to communicate their products and services to customers has a plan in place.
GDPR will impact how agents can collect data from prospective clients in-branch, over the telephone, and how they communicate with portal leads. All future communications can only contain information that the client has specifically consented to receive. “No consent, no communication, no customer lifetime value” it says.
The new regulation also enforces potentially enormous fines for non-compliance or misuse of data – €20 million or four per cent of annual turnover, depending on which is greater – providing further incentive for agents to take GDPR seriously.
BriefYourMarket says GDPR gives agents two options: “They can either delete their existing database and lose all of the customer contacts that they have built up over many years, or implement an effective GDPR-compliant system that will enable them to keep, build and manage a database of new and existing customers.”
“An agency’s database should be one of its greatest assets. The repeat-business opportunities that an agent’s database holds are too significant to lose. And when you take into consideration the current appeal of the online model, it’s crucial that agents retain and use as much of their data as possible. If they let their data go to waste, they stand to lose thousands in terms of potential revenue. I would urge all agents to act now” explains BriefYourMarket managing director Gareth Samples.
He adds that some of the detailed challenges that GDPR poses for agents are subscription-management of contacts and consent recording.
When the new data regulation comes into effect, agents will not be able to communicate with any of their historical data – unless they have taken action to opt-in customers to receive communications from them.
The regulation also states that businesses must ensure they have the ability to create and store time-stamped records of their contacts’ subscription changes.
“Whilst the regulation is daunting for many businesses, the key thing to remember is that agents still have time to prepare for GDPR, but they must start now. From a positive perspective, we believe that with the right solution, GDPR offers agents a renewed way to strengthen relationships with their existing customer base and maximise the opportunities with all of their customers” says Samples.
The company this month starts a 'Use It or Lose It’ roadshow of free two-hour sessions which will examine how GDPR will affect database usage and marketing for agents, and discuss what agents can do to ensure that their data and marketing practice complies with the new regulation.